Floodway issue puts hold on Weston Little School handicap ramp

By Bruce Frauman
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The installation of a proposed handicap access ramp at the Little School is on hold until Weston’s Zoning Board of Adjustment can determine if the building is in the floodway.

Deborah Granqust 2

Zoning Board of Adjustment member Deborah Granquist discusses the delay in building a ramp for the Little School. Photos by Bruce Frauman

At the Weston Select Board’s Sept. 13 meeting, ZBA member Deborah Granquist told the Select Board that the town’s flood hazard regulations require conditional use approval for building in the flood hazard area.

“The question that arises is: ‘Is this in the floodway or is it in the area outside the floodway?’ ” said Granquist. “The floodway is the closest part to the river and the flood area is the area beyond the floodway.” If it is in the area outside the floodway, no permit is required.  “The Zoning Board cannot proceed in its review until it has a definitive answer,” said Granquist.

Granquist  told the board that Zoning Administrator Hal Wilkins “is required to submit the application and certain information” to the Agency of Natural Resources, including whether the ramp is in the floodway.

Board chair Denis Benson also asked Little School Director Meghan Mezkat if the recent painting of the school was “up to snuff.” Mezkat replied that, “everything with the painting was great, wonderful.”

Water testing of the well supplying water to the Little School and the Weston Village Store was scheduled to be performed the following day, according to Mezkat. The testing is required by the state to ensure the safety of the Little School students. Little School treasurer Christine Falango said that, following a Select Board request, Weston Village Store owner Steve Smith agreed to have two faucets and one run of piping replaced.

Meghan Mezkat

Little School Director Meghan Mezkat.

At least twice Mezkat said she has “come to work and there’s been someone in the basement” from the Weston Village Store to turn the water off to the store. The valves for the store water supply are in the basement of the Little School. Mezkat said she was unaware that access to the building was needed.  In response, the board agreed to padlock the outside hatch and require Smith to notify the school when he or his workers need to get into the school.

Falango also told the board that Mezkat has submitted her letter of resignation and the school will be looking for a new director. Mezkat said she “has a worthy opportunity that makes leaving here very difficult. I am committed to staying active and involved.”

The town continues to consider replacing a culvert in front of a home on Piper Hill Road. Before that can happen, Board member Jim Linville said he will draft a letter to the owner asking the owner to  “hold us harmless and agreeing to hold a lien on the property.” The owner asked Road Forman Almon Crandall when the culvert could be installed. A town policy adopted in June 2015 states that “if the Selectboard decides that the repair is necessary to maintain the integrity of the town roads, the Town has the option to do the work and bill the property owner.” Linville said, “In this case, the person needs the help.”

Almon Crandall & Jim Linville

Board member Jim Linville, right, addresses the culvert issue on Piper Hill Road as Weston Road Foreman Almon Crandall listens

After opening oil bids from Irving, HB, and Cota and Cota, Linville moved to accept a bid from HB for a fixed pre-buy price of $1.849 per gallon for 6,100 gallons, if the bid is still valid. This passed unanimously.

Though bids were received for a new oil burning furnace for the town office building, Linville asked the board to defer the decision while the board looks into alternatives that board member Annie Fuji’i had proposed.  “I just don’t like the idea of replacing an oil furnace with an oil furnace. It’s outdated technology, there is newer technology available,” said Fuji’i who pointed to propane and heat pumps as more efficient and better environmentally.

“I would just like to look into that more”said Fuji’i.

Benson noted that Administrative Assistant Cheryl Barker said there is a crack in the combustion chamber of the current oil furnace. Linville said he is hoping the furnace will last one more winter. The board agreed to table the furnace bid and voted to purchase carbon monoxide detectors to protect the town employees working in the building.

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